Skip to Content

The Myth of Disenchantment: Magic, Modernity, and the Birth of the Human Sciences

Thursday, May 3

4:00 pm

McKenzie Hall 125

Presented by: Jason A. Josephson-Storm

Many theorists have argued that a defining feature of modernity is that people no longer believe in spirits, myths, or magic. In a talk based on his new book, Jason Ā Josephson-Storm will argue that as broad cultural history goes, this narrative is wrong, as attempts to suppress magic have failed more often than they have suc-ceeded—even within the human sciences. But then how did a magical, spiritual, mesmerized Europe ever convince itself that it was disenchanted?
Josephson-Storm traces the history of the myth of disenchantment in philosophy, anthropology, sociology, folklore, psychoanalysis, and religious studies, arguing that these disciplines’ founding figures were not only aware of, but profoundly en-meshed in, the occult milieu, and that it was specifically in response to a burgeon-ing culture of spirits and magic that they produced notions of a disenchanted world.

Jason Ā. Josephson-Storm is Chair & Associate Professor of Religion at Williams College.

Sponsored by: Religious Studies, Folklore, History, and the Oregon Humanities Center.

Free and open to the public.